Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mobile phone-based sensor to detect E. coli

Our smartphones are not simply little mobile computers that fit in our pockets. Soon, we may be diagnosing a wide variety of illnesses and performing diagnostic tests on a routine basis. Some of these capabilities currently exist (EKG, glucose monitoring, pulse ox, etc.) and now researchers at UCLA have announced the following:

Researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new cell phone–based fluorescent imaging and sensing platform that can detect the presence of the bacterium Escherichia coli in food and water. The engineers combined antibody functionalized glass capillaries with quantum dots (semiconductors often used for medical imaging) as signal reporters to specifically detect E. coli particles in liquid samples using a lightweight, compact attachment to an existing cell-phone camera.

Sounds very promising! Wouldn't it be great to also have another attachment that will zap food and water with UV and sanitize contaminated surfaces and objects? We're seeing UV utilized as a primary sterilization method in more hospitals (to sanitize keyboards, equipment, rooms, etc.).

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